July 6, 2013

Dublin - Kayaking on the Grand Canal

The day was off to a great start.  We passed a mother duck and six baby chicks as we walked along Dublin's Grand Canal toward Portobello.
We knew we'd arrived in the right place when we saw boldly colored kayaks sitting at the edge of the water.
We availed ourselves of a Groupon deal almost a year ago for a deeply discounted two hour kayaking session from Extreme Time-Off.  We were delayed in using the voucher due to dredging and construction work undertaken on the canal last summer.
With minimal instruction (a few encouraging words and 1-sheeter explaining how to paddle and steer), we were ushered into the kayak and sent on our way.
Things started out fine enough.  We were able to get moving downstream although we kept zig-zagging from bank to bank.  We couldn't quite figure out how to make the kayak go straight down the center of the water.
Slowly but surely, the first bridge over the canal drew closer.
We made it!
Paddling on, the scenery left a bit to be desired - barbed wire and litter.
We were starting to get the hang of it as we approached a second bridge.  I did get a little creeped out though when I spotted a rat running alongside the water under one of the bridges!  While we weren't great at steering, at least we didn't fall out of the boat!
All the bridges we passed were dated 1791 - just a little piece of history.
Our errant steering caused ducks to scatter on more than one occasion.
We could see other kayakers in the distance (we were a bit slower than our compatriots).
As we paddled on, the scenery improved dramatically.  We were unfortunately plagued by midges in certain patches but that just made us paddle faster.
We turned ourselves around and started heading back the way we'd come.
We had to dig deep to make it back to the dock in the two hour time window.  When I pulled myself out of the kayak, I could barely stand up - I didn't feel like I was engaging my legs that much in paddling, but apparently so.  I was definitely sore over the next couple days.
While the kayaking trip was worth doing, I think we'll stick to shore-based exploration from now on.
The canal is much prettier when viewed from the path and it's easier to steer...


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